Kevin Henry: 'Flaws' in the murder case explained
KEVIN Henry served a 25-year sentence for rape and murder, but the creators of a podcast investigating the case say the conviction was based on a false confession.
Henry was imprisoned in 1992, after being found guilty of killing Linda (last name omitted) whose naked body was found on the northern banks of the Fitzroy River the previous year.
Henry remains behind bars pending parole, but Rockhampton journalist Amy McQuire and human rights advocate Martin Hodgson believe they've found enough proof to justify an official pardon for the man they believe was wrongly convicted.
Mr Hodgson explains to The Morning Bulletin what he sees as flaws in the Henry case.
Linda had lived in Rockhampton mere weeks, after relocating from South Australia where she had managed a preschool.
She had been brutally assaulted by three women prior to her death on August 31, 1991, the cause of which was officially listed as drowning.
Within a week, police had charged Henry and three women with Linda's death.
The charges against the women were eventually reduced to grievous bodily harm and they served out their sentences before being released.
Mr Hodgson, who has worked on dozens of cases internationally as part of the Foreign Prisoner Support Service, said it took just minutes to see there were holes in the evidence used to convict Henry.
"Everything I've done since then has only turned up more flaws in the police investigation, more issues with the trial, the way the forensic evidence was handled," he told The Morning Bulletin.
"So much of what was done then in 1991 and 1992 just wouldn't pass muster now."
The case was investigated in the shadow of the Fitzgerald Inquiry into Queensland Police Corruption, the consequences of which were still reaching regional areas according to Mr Hodgson.
Mr Hodgson drew parallels between the way race interplayed with the Henry case, where both the victim and accused were Aboriginal and frequented drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic Toonooba House, and wrongful convictions uncovered in America's deep south.
The first element of Henry's conviction which caught Mr Hodgson's attention was a questionable confession, the only evidence offered during the trial.
In an interview with police on September 5, 1991, Henry confessed to having sex with a badly injured Linda following the violent bashing by three women outside Toonooba House.
Henry said Linda's face and body was covered in blood.
The then 22-year-old said he called an ambulance after having sex with Linda, but she had disappeared when paramedics arrived.
As part of the investigation, Mr Hodgson examined historical tide times and concluded there was no way Linda's body could have crossed to the northern banks after being placed in the water on the southern Toonooba House side of the Fitzroy.
As the high and forceful tide that night subsided, a parallel line was scoured in the mud by Linda's body as she was dragged 150m to her final resting place.
"Without an inflow and with the parallel line, we have very convincing evidence the body moved simply in one straight line with the tide and it was quite a forceful tide," Mr Hodgson said in episode one of Curtain.
Mud, which was described as being so thick it was more like quicksand, had piled around Linda's body.
Mr Hodgson said whoever placed Linda's body in the river would have been covered in mud.
But there is no police evidence or mention from Henry that he changed clothes between August 31 and September 5 when he made a second statement to officers.
Tidal records do not match Henry's version of events where he admitted to placing Linda's body in the river, but didn't mention leaving Toonooba with her body.
Henry would have had to carry or drive Linda's body across the bridge to place her in the river, where she would be dragged downstream by the tide.
Mr Hodgson said this fact was one of several inconsistencies with Henry's police statements.
Additionally, he said transcripts indicated some confusion with the situation.
Lack of legal representation is something Mr Hodgson also raised as an issue.
Henry wasn't the only person charged with Linda's murder initially.
The three women who had bashed Linda at Toonooba were also charged with murder when the official cause of death remained unknown.
When a verdict of drowning was confirmed, the charges against the women were downgraded to grievous bodily harm.
Mr Hodgson said a murder charge prior to an official cause of death was "highly unusual and highly problematic".
When Henry's case came to trial, the Judge struck out a large portion of the confession with an estimated 10% being admissible as evidence.
"The fact that a judge ruled so much of a person's statement inadmissible should have been a huge problem for the prosecutor, it should have meant the trial never went any further," Mr Hodgson said.
Mr Hodgson said police relied only on the confession at trial, with no other evidence connecting Henry to the crime or Linda.
Even if the confession was true, Mr Hodgson said there were valid questions about potential accomplices who would have been covered in blood and mud as there was no suggestion Henry cleaned himself or his clothes.
Mr Hodgson said his biggest issue with the Henry case was that if he didn't do it, then Linda and her family did not get justice.
"I think you have two families ... all victims of an appalling piece of police work that really should concern all of us because if what I say is true ... then I think every Queenslander and every citizen of Rockhampton has the right to be angry," he said.
This is the third in a series of Morning Bulletin reports on the Kevin Henry case.